Glam rock’s stars have always played with gender norms, but Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins, the rock duo known as PWR BTTM, take that tradition to an entirely new — and politically relevant — level. Both Hopkins, 25, and Bruce, 23, identify as queer, and Bruce also identifies as non-binary and transfeminine. Their punk-meets-performance art aesthetic blends lyrics matter-of-factly taking on gender issues with melodies as epic as any Queen anthem (with a lot of glitter, too).
“There used to be this big link between gay people and punk rock. It’s nice to see that again,” says Rufus Wainwright, 44, himself a pioneering queer artist, speaking with the two on the phone recently. “You’re on the right track!” Following 2015’s critically acclaimed Ugly Cherries, PWR BTTM will release its sophomore album, Pageant, May 12 on Polyvinyl, while Wainwright is prepping for European tour dates in May and June. Before departing for shows in Australia this month, Wainwright, a longtime fan of PWR BTTM, chatted with Bruce and Hopkins.
Rufus Wainwright: Today I went to the gym and played your music for my trainer — a straight guy who told me he’s sleeping with a Donald Trump supporter because the sex is good. And he really dug it!